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VALENJ: Q&A

Mar - 14 - 2008
Nicole C. Engard

After talks by Joe Lucia, Bob Molyneux and Joshua Ferraro we had a Q&A sessions at the VALE symposium. I’m going to put these in note format so that you can hopefully follow who said what:

Q: One person’s enhancement might be another person’s bug – how do you control that with open source?
A:

  • Joe – the release process depends on who gets to commit final changes to the code base – the community needs to figure this out over time – not every enhancement necessarily has to be released to the common code base
  • Josh – depends on the project – in the Koha community the community votes on a release manager and that manager gets to decide what’s included in the release

Q: Can you give us an example of what you mean by peer review process?
A:

  • Joe – VuFind is a great example – the community is not large get – peer review is dependent on what works well among experts – academic versus non-academic is not an issue as it is in journal peer review
  • Josh – two types of peer review – one from the user perspective and the other from the developer’s perspective
  • Bob – it’s not a formal process like journals – it happens in the community by peers – but not an editorial board

Originally uploaded by nengard

Q: Can you explain more what kinds of staff changes need to be made to support open source?
A:

  • Joe – staffing changes may be at the expense of some librarian positions – but it’s a necessity – it becomes the smart thing if you’re invested in your infrastructure – need to have a technological staff in house that can handle these new systems
  • Josh – you have to have technologists involved – they don’t have to be in the library – but they have to be involved – no vendor lock in means you can start with a company and move on to supporting it yourself if you so choose
  • Bob – library schools teach IT separate from the library people – you need to teach it both at the same time – there is no reason to have either or (like me) – there is no a critical mass of librarians with these skills because library schools are not turning them out – and this failure has occurred during the golden age of libraries – the patrons are beating their path to our door – but we don’t have the skills – it’s a shame that Josh had to to what he had to do in creating a company to ease his frustrations

Q: People are talking about the ILS going away, why are we developing something new if that’s the case?
A:

  • Josh – circulation is not going away – acquisitions is not going away (whether it’s print or electronic materials – they have to be acquired in some way) – cataloging is not going away – these are core functions of the library – the only difference is that with the open-source ILS the community drives the innovation – the community decides what they need and the products are developed to meet those needs – this means we have a more timely product
  • Bob (great analogy) – one author writes an article about a problem and then another librarian comes around reads it and sees something the first author missed and writes another article – and the original writers says “thank god – you figured it out” – it’s the many eyes theory (me: this is like my developing at Jenkins – i always had many eyes) – the open source ILS is a more valuable ILS because of this

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4 Responses so far.

  1. elle says:

    This was such a great conference. I only wish there were a few demos of an open source ILS in action. It was great seeing the acquisition function but I was hoping to see a bit of circ and ILL from those who use such modules on a daily basis. I think more follow-up discussion, a part 2, if you will, would be welcome by many librarians. My humble 2 cents!

  2. Nicole says:

    Elle, you can demo the staff end of Koha on the LibLime site (keep in mind there is a new release coming soon). You can also call either company and ask for a web or live demo. If you were there, then I live in your area.

  3. elle says:

    Thanks Nicole! I appreciate the offer. I’m going to take a closer look at evergreen, etc. I work as a virtual reference librarian and believe me when I tell you that online users are delighted with the functionality and choices offered by ILS systems such as waldo.

  4. Dan Scott says:

    Hi Elle:

    You can try out the Evergreen circulation and cataloging functions at http://demo.gapines.org – install the Evergreen staff client and use one of the preconfigured usernames / passwords to connect.

    You can also use those usernames and passwords to connect to the OPAC and play around with bookbags, etc, to see what the patron experience is like.


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